1

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. She crosses her arms over her chest as the man stutters an apology. The flowers tremble as he hands them slowly to her. She weighs the bouquet in her hands before bringing it up to her face. The man watches her nervously as she inhales, wondering which way the scent will sway her.

2

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. She looks down at the flowers and makes a little show of being surprised and the man smiles. The woman steps to the side as the man walks into the house. He leans in and kisses her on the cheek; she closes her eyes. It’s an old ritual, but the love and the ritual are the same thing.

3

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. She looks down at the flowers and smiles weakly. The man drops the bouquet in her hands as he walks into the house. She imagines her hands are a divine scale and she weighs the bouquet against a wound deep inside herself. As she closes the door she looks out, hoping to see someone, anyone, but the street is empty.

4

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. No one answers the door. The man turns and walks dejectedly out of the story. Later a car pulls up and a woman gets out. She knocks on the door and a woman who has been crying opens it. This woman looks angry or sad or both. The two go inside to talk. Later the women laugh as they dance to music. What a thing, to cry over a man. There are hundreds of men out there. Thousands. Millions. Billions.

5

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. No one answers the door. The man walks to a bar nearby. Not the bar he used to go to with the woman, a different bar. A bar you go to alone. A movie is playing on the TV. In the movie a couple has an argument. The man in the movie stammers an apology and hands the woman a bouquet of flowers. She weighs it in her hands and brings it up to her face. The two live happily ever after. The man in the bar orders another drink and tells the bartender a sad story. The bartender nods at the appropriate places. When the man finishes the story the bartender goes back to cleaning glasses. The man walks out of the bar, leaving behind the end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet.

The woman is at home. We know that she is angry or sad or both at the same time. Whatever she is doing she is doing angrily or sadly or both. If she is looking at a picture of herself and a man she somehow breaks it. Her sadness and/or her anger break it. If she picks up the frame and a piece of glass cuts her, her blood is angry or sad or both. But we don’t see this. We see a man standing at the front door holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. The story is about the one in danger of losing everything.

6

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. She smirks. The flowers tremble as he hands them slowly to her. She pulls the man inside and pushes him against the wall. The man makes a noise like he is afraid of her, but like he wants to be afraid of her. The bouquet seems to have no weight in the woman’s hands; they are already forgotten. She closes the door.

7

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. From the open door a woman stares at the man with apprehension and desire. His mane of jet-black hair is pushed back and his crystal blue eyes stare deep into hers.

“I thought you were in Dubai,” she says.

“Private jets are just part of the deal with being a millionaire,” he quips in his classic self-deprecating tone that makes him so relatable despite his extreme wealth.

“I told you my work comes first. I can’t afford any distractions anymore. When I left my husband I vowed that no man would ever hold me back again.”

“I would never hold you back,” the man takes a step closer to the woman, his musky scent overpowers the flowers, “I would only hold you when you asked.”

Deep within her the woman feels her body respond to his presence. She felt this the first time she met him at the hospital as her patient, lying in a bed, his hospital gown loose around his broad shoulders, revealing thick curly hair.

8

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. She squeals and grabs the flowers from him, inhaling deeply. The two hold hands as they step into the street. Later they get married in a church, have two children, grow old, and die peacefully within a week of each other. God bless America.

9

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. The front door is ajar, inside there are signs of a struggle. He runs through the house calling out a name but the house is empty. The police arrive; they take a statement but the man already knows nothing will come from the investigation. It begins to rain. The front door is still ajar and he can smell the rain, but it can’t wash away the stench of the city. The man sits at the dining room table with a bottle of whiskey and loads a gun.

10

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. The two lock eyes and a shared history unfolds between them. The woman opens her mouth to speak but the director ends the scene. The man and the woman break contact and the history vanishes. They turn away from each, as if they forgot the other existed, while waiting for the next scene to get set up.

11

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. She recognizes the man but cannot place where she knows him. As she struggles to come up with his name the man realizes this is not the way to woo a woman, this is something stupid he saw in a movie. She doesn’t even know his name. This whole situation is actually creepy. He is creepy. He stammers an apology and leaves.

The supermarket cashier looks up at a man holding a bouquet of flowers. She smiles noncommittally but says nothing because she understands the significance of buying a bouquet after 9:00pm. The cashier feels a little sorry for the man but this isn’t the first time she’s seen this and it won’t be the last. The man leaves without taking his receipt. She watches the automatic doors close behind him as he disappears into the darkness of the parking lot. It feels like she is alone in this store, in this world, like she only exists to sell sad men bouquets of flowers for other women.

12

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. This gesture, once romantic, is rendered trite by the succession of hapless male ingénues in popular culture. But this man is not one to notice clichés; he thinks nothing of the dominant narratives that define a society. A woman opens the door. She sighs and wonders if there was ever an original man standing on a stoop somewhere putting his hope into some wilted flowers.

13

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. Another man opens the door. Does this say something new? Or is this just putting familiar suits on unfamiliar people? All we can say is that the man with the flowers is probably in danger of losing everything.

14

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. Only it is not a woman, it is darkness shaped like a woman. The man opens his mouth to scream but the darkness wraps its arms around the man and drags him deep into the house. The door slowly creaks shut.

The florist takes off his apron and flicks off the lights above his kiosk. He places a few bouquets on the counter, simple arrangements that could work in any occasion. You never know who might need a bouquet after 9:00pm. He waves at the cashier as he leaves. People always ask him what flowers to buy. They expect him to be versed in classical literature and sensible relationship advice. They all think this from watching movies. But really, he’s just a man who took some classes and now he works as a florist at a supermarket. He brings his hands up to his face, the smell of chlorophyll and pollen still lingers.

15

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. He opens the door. He sees a man holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. The men recognize each other as themselves. They stand on identical stoops that open into each other. The men reach out and touch fingertips gently. They have never truly met someone who understood them until now.

16

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door; an orchestra begins to play. The man begins to sing to the woman and she sings in response. Then the two begin to sing together, moving in time with the music. They move out into the street while they sing and dance. Soon everyone from the neighborhood has come out to join them. The music swells and everybody raises their hands as a man and woman kiss.

The bartender looks up at a man holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. He smiles noncommittally but says nothing to him because he understands the significance of walking into this bar alone. The man has a few drinks and without being asked, begins to tell the bartender a sad story. The bartender nods at the appropriate places because it’s a slow night. The man leaves without taking his bouquet, and the heavy door swings shut behind him. The bartender feels a little sorry for the man, but this isn’t the first time he’s seen this and it won’t be the last. People always come here and tell him sad stories. He picks up the bouquet; it smells nice. Maybe he’ll take it home to his wife.

17

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. The woman holds a small girl in her arms. The man gives the bouquet to the girl; she raises it up to her face until the petals touch her nose. She thinks this is the most romantic smell in the world. It’s intoxicating. Years from now she will remember how the smell made her dizzy even though she won’t remember what flowers were in the bouquet.

18

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. The man is a door-to-door flower salesman. He needs to sell this last bouquet, times are hard, and he has a wife and child back home. He is in danger of losing everything.

19

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. Another man walks up behind him holding his own end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. The two begin to quarrel. The men grab each other and tumble to the ground in a clumsy display of combat, trampling the bouquets. A woman opens the door. The men roll in the street, embracing each other, bleeding over love.

The man stares at the bouquets of flowers left on the kiosk. He gets the feeling that whatever one he chooses will change the outcome of what happens next. He looks around but the store is empty save for a lone cashier at the opposite end. The man wonders how long he’s been here; time seems to have folded in on itself. He starts the same decision over and over again. Perhaps too much time has passed, the man begins to panic. He reaches out and grabs the closest bouquet. The story is about the one with everything to gain.

20

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. The man leaves the bouquet of flowers at the front door, adding it to the pile. Everyone in the neighborhood has left flowers at the front door. It was such a tragedy.

21

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door; she is old. Her smile is crooked. She remembers when suitors would come to her door with flowers, that hasn’t happened in a long time. The man gently puts her hands around the bouquet. It seems impossibly heavy but she raises it up to her face till the petals touch her nose. It smells like the history of every man she’s ever loved. The woman begins to cry. She reaches up and touches the man’s face. He leans down and kisses her forehead.

22

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. No one answers the door. The man is confused. He sits down and waits till morning. Still, no one answers the door. Days pass. The wilted flowers dry up and blow away. He thinks about getting up but is afraid the door will open if he leaves. Years pass. He is still waiting.

23

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. The man tells the woman that courtship is a social construct. The woman responds that social constructs still have personal meaning.

24

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. He unlocks the door and walks inside. He cuts the stems and places the flowers in a vase on his dining room table. Holding a glass of wine he sits and stares at his arrangement. He imagines he is a florist. He thinks maybe it would be a better job than he has now, he thinks a lot of things in his life could be better. There are probably night classes in floral arranging. Someone knocks on the front door and startles the man. He feels anxious about this late-night visitor, but he stands up and goes to answer the door.

25

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. The man shoves the flowers into her hands and walks into the house. She follows him down the hallway, into the living room, through a door, and downstairs into the basement. The woman commands him to sit. He sits on a chair and stares straight ahead. The woman walks up behind the man and presses her finger very lightly against a button behind his right ear. There’s a small click and the man’s eyes flash before he closes them. The woman surveys the room. Dozens of identical men line the walls of her basement. Soon her plan will be complete.

The woman is sitting at home watching a movie. Her phone rings, it’s a friend in hysterics, something about a man with an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. What a thing, to cry over a man. She gets a call like this every month from this friend; she has become a supporting character in someone else’s story. She says she can’t come over; that she’s leaving the country in a few hours. Then she packs her bag and drives to the airport.

26

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. The inside of the house smells like the whole thing is starting to rot. The man and the woman shoot up together and fuck. They think their lives are very authentic.

27

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. They tearfully make up. This is the dénouement but it’s obvious these two are so comically mismatched it will end in disaster eventually.

28

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. The man pulls out a stiletto. He moves towards the woman, but the woman moves faster. She pulls the man towards her, grabs his arm and twists it. He falls into his own knife. The bouquet falls to the floor. The woman pushes the man up against the wall and kicks the door shut with her foot. She leans up against the man with her weight, resting her head on his shoulder tenderly. His breath becomes ragged and warmth spreads over her hands. The man does not speak. Finally his knees give out and she lets him fall to the floor. She showers and changes into clean nondescript clothes. From under a floorboard she pulls out a tiny package wrapped in brown paper. After a few hours she puts the package into a pocket of her coat and walks out of the house never to return.

29

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. A woman opens the door. She begins laughing. The man wants to tell her to stop, but he can’t, her laughter is deafening. She grows bigger as she laughs and the man grows smaller. The woman leans in as the man shrinks on the stoop. She has beautiful teeth. The man begins to cry.

30

It’s late. A man stands at the front door of a house holding an end-of-the-evening supermarket bouquet. His body fights against a compulsion to knock on the door, to resolve infinite outcomes into a single narrative. The flowers tremble in his grip. Time seems to have folded in on itself. He doesn’t understand why he is here, why he must open this door. He pulls his hand back and walks out into the street.